Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Julius (Juke) Bartels (Part 2)

Part 2 - Juke Bartels - The WWII years
This part of the blog really isn't a blog at all, but facts I pulled together primarily out of my mom's diary for the years 1944 and 1945. Despite the fact that my dad was supporting a wife and 2 children at home, he was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1944. With the nation at war for over 2 years, more servicemen were needed, and he was "called up"

Part 3 will kick off my memories of my dad. 

Juke was stationed at the following Army Air Corps bases:

1)    Fort Sheridan, Chicago (Boot camp)
June 23, 1944 to September 3, 1944  

Truax Field - Madison, WI: a major school operating at Truax AAF for training radio operators 
September 4, 1944 to January 18, 1945 and 
October 13, 1945 to December 16, 1945

Boca Raton, Florida - Boca Raton Army Airfield - 
February 26, 1945 to October 12, 1945

Below is an exhaustive list of dad's days leading into his involvement with military life during the war and all his travels during his enlistment. It is hard to imagine how he was able to make the trip home so often with gas rationing occurring. Since I made all these notes I thought I would share them. It is rather mundane info and may not be all that exciting to read, but it was obviously very important to him to get home as frequently as possible.

1)      From Mom’s Diary and other resources:
            -Dad received his A-1 card on March 31, 1944
-June 7, 1944 dad was in an accident (auto?). He was injured and stayed in bed 2 days (my comment - he was always an aggressive driver)
-On June 10, 1944 he received a letter from the Army informing him that he will soon need to report for duty
June 15, 1944, Uncle Dave (Vander Kooi) left for the Army (per an interview with Uncle Dave on August 17, 2010), he said that he and Dad were at Camp Sheridan at the same time, and confirmed that they did not arrive on the same day.
-Dad left on June 21, 1944. For the 2 nights prior to him leaving, “the house was full of lots of company”
-June 23, 1944, he returned home for two days (my note: he probably reported to Camp Custer in Battle Creek first, came home for a day and then left for Fort Sheridan)
-Dad was to move to a new camp (Truax Field, Madison, WI) around August 29, 1944
-Dad arrived at home by train in the morning and left in the afternoon of September 3, 1944 for Madison
-Dad came home Sept 10 & 11 (it was my brother Chet’s birthday). Arrived by train and returned to camp by plane.
-On Sept 24, 1944, dad came home in the early morning hours and mom & Chet traveled back to camp with him. They went downtown Madison together and ate dinner there on September 26 and moved into a cabin on the 27th through October 5

-October 18, 1945 Dad arrives home via train
-Dad returned home by train on October 25, 1944 and went back to camp the same day. Mom fell and was injured. She went to the doctor on October 26.

-November 1, 1944 dad was home again arriving at 1:30 in the morning.
-November 8, 1944 dad was home again arriving at 1:30 in the morning once again
-Dad came home again on the 16th and returned to camp on the 18th.
-Nov 19, 1944, dad was home again. They picked him up from (the train station) in Holland
-Nov 25, 1944, dad came home during the night again and returned to camp on the 26th
-Dec 3, 1944, dad was home again
-Dec 24, 1944, dad was home again but returned to camp Christmas night
-December 30, 1944, dad home again & took the train back to camp on January 1, 1945
-January 12, 1945, dad is home again
-January 16, 1945, dad called mom & told her that he was going to be transferred to Chicago, Ill (Fort Sheridan?) soon. He was transferred on January 18, 1945

-Dad came home on the following Sundays and returned to base the next day
            -January 28, 1945
            -February 4, 1945
            -February 11, 1945
            -February 18, 1945
            -February 25, 1945
-Dad left for (Boca Raton) Florida on February 26, 1945
-March 15, 1945; Mom goes to the hospital; Judy and Joyce are born
-March 19, 1945; Dad arrives home on the 9:15 train
-March 22, 1945, mom returns home from the hospital
- April 6, 1945, Dad returns to camp in Boca Raton
-May 7, 1945, mom comments about VE Day (“the war in Germany is over”)
-June 6, 1945, Harris Scholten took dad’s car back to camp
-June 9, 1945, dad is home
-June 14, 1945, dad returns to camp
-October 12, 1945, dad transferred to Truax Field (Madison, WI)
-October 14, 1945, dad is at home for less than a day and takes the car back to camp
-October 19, 1945, dad arrived home at night and returned Oct 21, 1945
-October 26, 1945, “Dady came back home again” (Dady was always with one “d” in mom’s old diary) and returned to camp by bus on Oct 28
-November 3, 1945; Dad came home during the night and returned to camp by train the evening of Nov, 6
-November 8, 1945, dad is home, but left for Muskegon on Nov 9 (apparently in route to Madison?)
-December 16, 1945, Dad is on this way home and stopped at Chanute (Air Force Base, Rantoul, IL); mom is snowed in
-December 20, 1945, Dad is home to stay!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Julius (Juke) Bartels - Part 1

Julius (Juke) Bartels - my dad (Introduction)

I have thought about my father much more often in the last 6 years than I did, let's say, in the previous 20 years. The primary reason for this is when I turned 57 years old in October of 2010, I became the same age my father was when he died. The fact that this was all the days that he was given here on earth made a big impact on me. I started to reflect on my dad's life much more often that year and since. So, I thought I'd try to capture some facts, thoughts and memories regarding him.

First, some background facts about my dad prior to my arrival here on earth:

He was born on June 24, 1919. His father Charles had been recently discharged from the army following the WWI Armistice. The family lived in Muskegon for the first 2 years of his life and then moved to West Olive, Michigan. Julius graduated from the 8th grade in 1932 which was the end of his formal education as a young man. He is standing on the right in back row of his graduation photo.

I do not know all that much about the years between 1932 and when he married my mother in 1940. I understand that as a young man and the oldest son on a farm during this depression era, he would have been working hard to help the family make it through that difficult time. However, when he was almost 17 years old he was hired as a farm hand at a farm in Overisel (about 15 miles from home).  His duties there included milking the cows twice a day as well as other farm chores. This was in exchange for room and board and meager wages.

I know that in his teen years, he also had time to learn how to play the guitar.  He was in some type of band that wore very snazzy apparel.

About 1935

About 1936
Although he kept a guitar around the house for most of his life I never heard him play it. I believe my sister Joyce has this stringed instrument now. I also have a photo of about 100 youth, all holding some type of musical instrument, in a large meeting room with dad standing in the back row with his guitar. He must have enjoyed playing, but my thought today is that with the demands on his time to provide for 10 kids, playing guitar is something he just did not have time for.

My dad met my mom at a Christian Endeavor meeting (the youth group of the day) at Ottawa Reformed church. This was a quiet and proper place to meet. However, based on the stories shared by my Uncle Dave Vander Kooi (see previous blog post regarding this interview) my dad also had a bit of a wild side. This is also confirmed by comments my mother made in her latter years in life. As teens, dad was a good friend of mom's brothers Egbert and Dave. At first her opinion was that she would never date him, but obviously that viewpoint changed with time. By 1958, at just 38 years old, my dad had fathered 11 children.

First date photo

I cannot help but marvel at dad's hair at this point in his life. The "first date" photo, the head shot below and the family photo all demonstrate what I mean..... I am jealous. I wish I had even a small portion of that thick hair today.

Left to right: Tony, Bell, Roger, Kay and Juke
Not long after their marriage, they moved from a house with indoor plumbing to the farmhouse that I grew up in. The "new" house had no indoor plumbing, and would not for several more years, just a few years before I was born. Dad worked at Western Foundry in Holland during the day and toiled on the farm the rest of the day and often into the night. As I sit here on the couch tonight and I think about how long and hard he work, I am awed by his perseverance.

To be continued.................................

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Egbertje J. Vander Kooi - my great grandmother

I have the honor of having two of my great grandmothers live to be 100 years old. That is rather special since the average life of a woman for that generation was about 65 years. Both of these woman lived as widows for about 35 years following the death of their husbands.

On my fathers side of the family, it was Klaasje (Clara) Troost Bartels. She immigrated to the US from the Netherlands as a youth and married John Bartels. I knew her as a child and youth. In fact, I was 21 when she passed away in 1974. I wrote about her life in previous blogs.

The other great grandmother that live to be 100 is on my mother's side of the family, her name was Egbertje J. Bloemsma Vander Kooi. Although she died in 1958, 5 years after I was born, I never met her as she remained in the Netherlands her entire life.  Egbertje gave birth to 13 children. Yes, 13, Wow! Her second child Johannes (my grandpa Vander Kooi) immigrated to the US in 1903 when he was 21 years old. I learned from older relatives that he only traveled back to the Netherlands two times to visit his mother during the rest of his life. The story about one of the trips is included in the blog related to an interview I conducted with my Uncle Dave Vander Kooi. In addition to Johannes, 3 other of her children immigrated overseas, one to the USA and two to Canada. It would have been difficulty to see your children leave, more or less permanently from your life.

Based on research that some of my relatives that still live in the Netherlands completed, I have learned a little about my great grandma's last years. It appears she was quite a woman. A few newspaper articles about her 100th birthday and her death tell us a little about this dutch woman and matriarch.

From a newspaper article in the "Leewarder Courant" dated October 10, 1957:

"Grandma Eibertje celebrates her 100th birthday"
In honor of the 100th birthday of Mrs. E. Vander Kooi-Bloesma, Grandma Eibertje, the flag was placed on the Tower of Dronrijp. Also, many inhabitants of the Village had placed a flag at their homes. Many came to congratulate grandma and she cheerfully accepted all of the best wishes. Mayor D. Torensma addressed the centenarian on behalf of the village government of Menaldumadeel and presented her with an envelope and its contents. The commissioner for the King of Friesland, Mr H. P. Linthorst Homan, was unable to be there due to official business, but he sent best wishes in writing. In the evening, both the local music bands and the Christian Choral group honored Grandma Eibertje.

There was an additional newspaper article published the next day in the Franeker News:entitled "Enormous interest for 100 year old Grandma Eibertje"

Some additional information from that article includes the following:

No one on Tuesday needed to doubt whether there was sufficient interest for the centennial observance of Grandma Eibertje. It was not only because of the large number of flags waving in the village, but also the red, white and blue flag was waving at the "Old White" in the autumn sunshine. [non-translation note of my relative; "The Old White" is the Reformed Church in Dronrijp that Grandma Eibertje and some of her family attended - it is a large white building used to celebrate the occasion] It was filled to the rafters.  She was filled with joy celebrating with her family and a table was filled with fruit, flowers, telegrams, letters and gifts. The mayor made a short speech and said Eibertje was "an example of vitality".

Other facts learned from research and obituaries includes:

At the age of 20, she married my great grandfather, Jentje Douwe Vanderbilt Kooi, on August 8, 1878. This was not her first marriage as she was previously married on July 15, 1877, but her first husband died 2 1/2 months later on August 4, 1877. I will need to research as to how he died.

She almost always wore a traditional dutch Frisian headpiece. This usually had gold ornaments on each side. She is wearing one of these headpieces in every photo I have of her.

One obituary states that she passed away unexpectedly on February 27, 1958. "She was having her morning tea with her daughter and suddenly became ill and succumbed to a stroke that she did not survive". The article goes on to reflect on her recent 100th Birthday celebration stating "In our thoughts we look back to her beaming face when fellow villagers, family and friends presented her with their gifts and congratulations. How energetic she was".

She was hardly ever ill and was remarkably alert for 100; she could walk well and knit up a storm.

I wish I had met this woman who was loved by so many.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Reflections on WWI

My very first blog back in 2010 was regarding the last living veteran of WWI. He has now past away. However, my focus has once again returned to this "War to end all Wars." I am current reading "Last Post: The Final Word from our First World War Soldiers" by Max Arthur. Max is an Englishman who interviewed 21 British World War I veterans still alive in 2004. At the time of the interviews, these men were aged 104-109. Max did a good job capturing their memories of that long-ago struggle. I am also viewing a documentary entitled "The Last Voices of WWI" that interviewed vets from 1998 to 2001.

These veterans served in the infantry, the RFC (air force) or Royal Navy. The accounts of life in the trenches by the 'Poor Bloody Infantry' are challenging to comprehend. The mud, lice, stench, the filth and the times of boredom were mixed with death from artillery shells, snipers, nighttime scouting patrols and possible attach by either side. One vet commented that during the 3 years he was at the front, he bathed only twice. That is just not comprehensible to us today. Another commented that he did not have lice, "the lice had him". He said he could somehow tolerate the constant shelling, the continual threat (and sometimes reality) of the poisonous gas, the mud, the overwhelming odor of rotting horses and sometimes bodies from "no man's land" etc., but the lice nearly drove him mad.

A third vet said he never stopped thinking about (at 106 years old) his brother who was at his side when they "went over the top" in an attach against the German lines. He saw his brother fall but could not stop to help him. He found out at the end of the day that his brother had been killed. "It broke my heart when he died. I would have liked to die with him, but I didn't and here I am today."

In the documentary, one of the vets started to tell about how shrapnel from one artillery shell killed 3 of his friends. As he spoke, this 105 year old man broke down and said he never before was able to talk about that dreadful day in his life.

In reading and listening to these accounts, I am humbled by their sacrifice and greatly admire these old soldiers. Here we are almost 100 years later, and life is so very good for most of us here in the U.S. This is in part a result of what these brave young men were willing to endure to maintain freedom and restore peace, albeit temporarily, within the world that they lived.  As I reflect on the almost 120,000 U.S. soldiers that died in WWI, I cannot help but feel that all in all, little has changed here on earth when it comes to mankind's inability to live peacefully with each other. War continues, and men continue to kill each other. Several of the interviewees commented on that fact and made statements as to how useless war really is. Although I love to study history and the wars that raged, I have to agree with them.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mexican-American War

Mexican-American War Cliff Notes: I have been reminded lately that it has been a LONG time since I have been back to this blog. So I thought I would share some insights I learned from 2 books I recently finished about the Mexican-American War (1846-1847). I think if you asked the average American citizen on the street (if there is such a thing) if the United States ever fought a war against Mexico, most people, if they were honest about it, would say no or they don't know. I doubt if Jay Leno would know either without referring to his staff of writers. The Civil War that began barely a decade later overshadows this time in history. At the time this occurred, many called this conflict President Polk's War and felt it was very unjust. My understanding of the cause of the war was the debate as to where the southern border of the US terminated and were the lands of Mexico began. The US understood the border to be the Rio Grande River (as it is today). Mexico understood the boundary to be the Nueces River that is about 100 miles farther North. Both nations sent troops to enforce their competing claims, and a standoff ensued. Finally in the Spring of 1846, the Mexican troops ambushed the American troops on soil claimed by both countries. Eleven American troopers were killed and the war was underway. President Polk eagerly sought this war in order to seize larger tracts of land from Mexico. So if I have not lost you yet, here is a Cliff notes review of the war. The Mexican-American War was the first major war driven by the concept of "Manifest Destiny"; the belief that America had a God-given right to expand the country's borders from 'sea to shining sea'. President Polk had an aggressive expansionist policy. Also during his term the Oregon question was settled (the U.S. and Britain agreeing to divide the Pacific Northwest between them at the 49th parallel) and for the first time the territory of the United States extended to the Pacific Ocean. SIDE NOTE: James Polk was the youngest president to serve at the time of his inauguration at just 49 years old and he died of cholera only three months after leaving office. Although there were numerous battles fought during these 2 years, the most compelling story is that of the US army led by General Winfield Scott. He completed the first major amphibious landing of American troops on the beaches near Veracruz. His army consisted of about 10,000 men. The first major battle with the Mexican army that was lead by Santa Anna was fought at Veracruz. Although the Americans were outnumbered 3 to one, they won each battle fought with the Mexican during this campaign. From there, General Scott did the unthinkable. He separated his army from its supply base and began to march inland toward Mexico City. Several major battles were fought along the way from Mid-April to mid-September 1847, many with a high loss of lives on each side. These battles and locations are not names we recognize; Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Churubusco, Molino Del Rey and Chapultepec. This is unlike the familiar names of major Civil War battle locations that where fought; such as Gettysburg, Bull Run, Antietam, etc.) However, many young Americans gave their lives fighting for our country south of our boarder. In the end, the U.S. army was victorious and in February 1848, a Treaty was inked. The treaty called for the annexation of the northern portions of Mexico to the United States. In return, the U.S. agreed to pay $15 million to Mexico for the territory that was gained. Two major reasons for the victory were 1) the superior cannon of the U.S. artillery and 2) the strategies used by the U.S. officers turned the tide against the Mexicans. The war cost the United States over $100 million, and the lives of over 10,000 Americans were lost. America had defeated its weaker foe, but paid a very high price in doing so.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Clara Troost Bartels (continued) Clara also stayed at the home of other family members from time to time including Juke and Tena Bartels. This also occurred during 1944 & 1945 while Juke was in the Army Air Corp during WWII and Tena was home with 4 children. Johanna was also later widowed and since her children were grown and married she and Clara moved to Zeeland. They lived in a comfortable home 2 houses distance from the (former) Van Raaltes Restaurant. Later the church near them bought this property for a parking lot and they moved again. This time they moved to modern condominium in Zeeland. Great grandma Bartels treated all the relatives with mittens, sweaters, scarves, booties, slippers and afghans whenever she could. She did beautiful work and a lot of it. Even after she turned 90 hears old she made over 60 Afghans. Great Grandma was always quite healthy. Right up until her late 90’s she was hardly ever ill. However, her hearing began to fail as she got older. In her late 90’s she would usually get rather sick once a year, but with her great will would always bounce back and start working again. At some point in his adult life, John Bartels went to the courthouse for his first set of citizenship papers, but for some unknown reason, he never followed through with the process. Clara never did try to secure her citizenship. She thought it to be too difficult, and besides, she already felt like a citizen since she had been in the U.S. since she was 8 years old. In 1973, LaVerne Hoeksema asked Clara (his grandma)if she was willing to go through the necessary procedure and become a citizen for her 100th birthday. Since the family members offered to do the work, she agreed. What a special event that was for all of the family. At the golden age of 100, she became a citizen of the country where she spent 92 years of her life, and for which her eldest son died in battle to keep her, and all of us free! This was headline news in the Holland Evening Sentinel, the area's daily newspaper. Clara Troost Bartels died on May 30, 1974, 100 years and approximately 6 months after celebrating her 100th birthday. She was a hard working woman who endured much sorry (with the death of 2 children and her husband) and also realized times of great joy. She loved her family and the God that created her, and her family loved her.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Clara Troost Bartels

Clara Troost Bartels

My great grandma Clara was born on November 20, 1873. Just 8 short years after the civil war ended here in the United States. Her parents were Klaas Troost and Aaltje Dominee Troost. The family made a once in a lifetime decision in the spring of 1882 to relocate to America. In late April of 1882, they set sail from Amsterdam, Netherlands for the port of New York. They were aboard the vessel “Jason”, a small ship constructed in 1866. The vessel was 248 feet long with a beam of just 32 feet. According to the records found (including a copy of the original ship’s log – only the first letter of the first name of each child is listed in the log) aboard the ship were; Klaas (47 years old), Aaltje (48), (J) Jan (John at 17), (L) Lambertus (Bert at 14), (H) Henrik (Henry at 11), (Kl) Klaasje (Clara at 8), (R) Roelof (Ralph at 5), (J) Jantje (Jennie at 4), and Clara’s grandmother. The 4 week long journey ended with the arrival in New York on May 13, 1882.

At this point in the blog, I am going to start inserting portions of a high school English paper that was written by a great granddaughter of Clara; Terri Hoeksema (daughter of Vern Hoeksema). I was not smart enough to interview my great gandmother when she was alive, but thankfully one of her other grandchildren completed this task. Except for a few spelling corrections, I have made very few edits of what she wrote and I have noted my inserts to the story.

My great grandma Bartels was not one that talked about her past much or told stories. But she told me and others enough about her life that we can get a vague picture of what it was like. That is what I am going to try to do here. From what great grandma told me herself, and what my relatives can tell me, especially my grandma Hoeksema (Mrs. Bartels daughter), and the little I know I have pieced together a story about great grandmother’s life.

Biography of Clara Troost Bartels

It was a confused little girl that stood arms resting on the side of the boat, looking at the receding land which was her home country, the Netherlands. That little girl was Klaasje Troost and at the age of eight she was leaving the Netherlands and home for the United States and a new life. As the land faded from sight Klaasje sighed and turned away. She might as well get used to her new temporary home aboard ship. “It may not be so bad” she thought. At least it will not be lonely for with her were her parents, five brothers and her grandmother.
The 4 weeks aboard ship went slow. The ocean was rough and the people on deck became less and less as the voyage continued. Some of the passengers were seasick but many others were ill due to a sickness brought on by the unsanitary conditions. They stayed confined to their beds. Some even died. Thankfully, Klaasje and her family reached New York together. Even though none of the family died a few were still weak from being sick. After a brief rest in New York they boarded another boat heading up the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Great Lakes. This trip was not as rough as the Atlantic Ocean voyage. The family began to get their first good look at America during this leg of the trip. Their stay in New York was brief, but along the way they stopped at a few cities and soon but together a general idea of what their new country would look like.

Klaasje thought that she would never forget that day in 1882 when she stood on the land of her new home. Soon, they were finally to their final destination near Zeeland, Michigan. The entire family gathered around to rejoice, pray and thank God for providing the safe journey. The area was mostly covered with dense forest with a few swamps, but clearings with a few small farms were also noticed around the Zeeland area.

The other families that traveled with the Troost split up and when their own ways upon reaching Zeeland. Many when to stay with relatives that had previously made the trip. This was also true for the Troost. They traveled to Raaks house about 6 miles from Zeeland. Their relatives were overjoyed to see them and so very glad that everyone made it safely.

Many days in the coming months, Klaasje thought about all that she had left behind in the Netherlands. She spent the first 8 years of her life in the province of Overisal in the Netherlands. Clasha kept up with her brothers, she was a regular tomboy. She attended school for a few years in the Netherlands and remembered that she enjoyed it. One other memory of her childhood overseas is that she really enjoyed ice skating in the wintertime.

The time seemed to fly by as the family built their home in North Holland. Clasha realized that she could enjoy some of the same activities here that she did in the Netherlands. She was soon climbing maple trees with her brothers when they ha free time, which wasn’t often. There was a lot of work to do around the new home and she did all that she could at 8 years old. However, school would start soon and she would be relieved of some of her work.

Just when the family was starting to get used to and appreciate the new home they were making, tragedy struck. Grandma became more ill and 13 days after they had come to Zeeland she died. Klasha knew what her mother was going to tell her that day when she approached her with a weary expression on her face. Her mother stroked her hair and started to speak, but Klaasje just hugged her mother’s waist and let the tears flow. “At least she made it to America” Klaasje thought.

After the funeral, the work on the house and the fields continued. However, soon school started and her time was split between home, school and church on Sundays. Each Sunday the entire family would dress in their best clothes and leave the house early for the 3 ½ mile walk to the church in New Holland. After the Dutch services were over, they would make the same 3 ½ mile walk home.

Time went by quickly as the family continued to build their new home and lives in Zeeland. Soon the time came when Klaasje was old enough to work out of the home. While she looked for work throughout the area, she discovered that people had difficulty with her name. It was humorous at first but soon became annoying. She discussed this with her parents and obtained their approval to change her name to “Clara.” As Clara, she came upon a job as maid to the doctor in Zeeland, Dr. Daniel Baert. The doctor was a well known person so she considered it a complement when hired as the Baert’s maid.

The Baert house was a beautiful red brick Italian style home. Clara knew they we wealth but the site of the house still caught her breath that first day she say the structure with the lead glass windows. She hurried up the steps to the door and knocked. Another maid welcomed her into the house. Clara saw that the inside was just as glamorous as the outside as she was lead through the home to meet the family. Clara found herself liking the family and vowed to do her very best work for them. She enjoyed her life inside the Baert home. However, soon something else entered her life that she enjoyed more.

John Bartels was a handsome and dashing young man who lived in Zeeland also. Clara saw him in town when she was on errands for the Baerts and though she liked this handsome young man. She was concerned however about him noticing her since she was seven years younger than. At last, they did start to speak to each other when they met and they enjoyed many happy times together.

The event that occurred when she knew that her feelings for John were deepening was when they caught the Inter-Urban train in Zeeland. It was crowded for a special celebration in Jenison Park. They squeezed into one of the cars and enjoyed themselves for the 9 mile trip. As they got off the train, they melted into the crowd and joined them in the celebration. Soon the exciting day came to an end and it was time to board the Inter-Urban for the trip home. However, when John and Clara came back to the station, not an empty space could be found. They walked along side car after car looking for some space to board, but as they did so the Inter-Urban pulled away headed back to Zeeland without them. Since it was getting lat, John thought it over quickly and decided that they had better start walking if they wanted to get back home. Clara appreciated John taking charge and staying with her all the way until they returned home. By that time it was 4:00 in the morning and her parents were worried and angry when they learned that they had missed the train. Poor John had to listen to Clara’s parents and then return home to hear from his own parents as well.

After more time had gone by, John and Clara decided to marry. Both of their parents agreed with this very important life decision. So on October 28, 1892, Clara became John’s husband; Clara Troost Bartels. Clara was 19 and John was 26 years old.
They wasted no time in starting their own farm. Work on their new home began in November of 1892 after clearing the land. The wood framed farmhouse stood on Tyler Street, near 128th Ave in Olive Township. Clara helped John with the farm. It was hard work but the two of them were a happy husband and wife. They grew grain and hay for the cows and pickles in the summer for a cash crop.

Clara also helped out her aging parents during their early married years. Only she and her younger brother Henry were still in this area of Western Michigan. Her older brothers John and Bert and her younger brother Ralph and their families had moved to the state of Washington to find work. Her younger sister Jennie had also moved away.
The years of 1893 and 1894 were years of establishment; not only for the farmland and farmhouse, but also for the family. Clara was expecting their firstborn child and on October 1, 1894, a son was born. They named him Herman John Bartels (probably for his father John and John’s father Hermanus). They were happy to have a son that would grow up to be an asset to the farm, but most of all, they loved him.
In the years that followed, little Herman gained brothers and sisters. Following Herman were; Charles, John, Alice, Benjamin, Johanna and Henrietta. It took a lot of hard work to make their farm support the family comfortably. John was challenged with the farm work and Clara with the family and home as well as helping with the farm. These years were filled with joys and heartaches, health and sickness, hard work and little play, baby things and needs, education for the older children and cries for mommy to help the little ones. John and Clara took all this in stride as the loved the children and enjoyed bringing them up in a Christian home.

(Terry Bartels insert) The year 1917 had to be one of mixed emotions for Clara. Probably in April or May, Clara (at the age of 43) would have known that she was expecting her eighth child. I would guess this was an unexpected blessing. Their youngest daughter Henrietta was now 5 years old and having one in diapers again would have been a challenge at this age. The 5 children that remained at home ranged from 5 to 17 years old. (a situation to be repeated 40 years later when my mother (Tena Bartels) gave birth to twins at the age of 42 with 8 other children at home including a 4 year old (me)).

(Terry Bartels insert)Also at this time, President Wilson and the Congress had declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917 and many young men throughout the United States would soon be drafted into the army. This included Clara’s sons Herman and Charles. Both young men registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. At 22 years old, Herman was the oldest child and he had already left home to start his own life working on a farm in Fillmore Township south of Holland. His brother Charles, then 20 years old, was dating a young lady by the name of Henrietta Harsevoort. Herman also had a girl friend but no one knows what her name was or how serious of a relationship they had. Both of them reported for duty in the early fall of 1917.

On January 5, 1918, Clara gave birth to a 4th daughter, Janet Clara Bartels. Janet was frail from birth and was an unhealthy infant. On May 28, 1918 she died of acute bronchial pneumonia (per the death certificate). Losing a 5 month old infant was a shock to the family, but most of all to Clara. At this time in history it was not all that uncommon for children to die, but the loss was tragic. They borrowed a camera and took a picture of Janet so she would not be forgotten. With good Christian attitudes, John and Clara thanked God that they had only lost one child when so many families had lost more, so much more. But soon they were troubled again.

(Terry Bartels insert) Herman had reported to boot camp in late August of 1917 and in February 1918 shipped out to France with the 126th Infantry of the 32nd Division with thousands of other young men from West Michigan. On May 21, 1918 Herman entered the war (based on the History of the 32nd Division). On August 30, 1918 Herman was killed in action. News of this probably would have taken a couple of weeks to reach the family. Undoubtedly there were letters exchanged between Herman and his parents while he was in France, but none are known to still exist.

It was the fall of 1918 and everyone who could help with the harvest was out in the fields. Clara straightened her body for a moment and brushed her hair away from her perspiring forehead. As she did this she glanced toward the opposite end of the field where the house and barn stood. She squinted and saw a woman making her way towards them. Soon she recognized her as the aunt who was the telephone operator for a couple of telephone lines. As she got closer Clara noticed the aunt had a sad and worried look. Clara became concerned and called John over to her side. Just then the aunt reached them. After pausing a moment she announced in a sad tone of voice that she had bad news. Herman had been killed in Battle. The news was very hard to take for it was the 2nd child they lost within 6 months. They would never get totally over their grief, but there were other children to care for and many other things to do.

(Terry Bartels insert) Every American soldier in WWI was encouraged to signed forms for his family to receive death benefits in the event of their death while in the service. According to relatives living in 2009, John and Clara were not able to spend any of the funds they received from the army for many years. Eventually, they were emotionally able to spend some of this money and much of it was used to help others. This is a tribute to the kind of character and integrity (and love for their son) that they had.

(Terry Bartels insert) In January of 1921, the old wounds of Herman’s death were opened up again. The army was retuning his remains to the states after being temporarily interned in France since his death. His remains were returned to Holland Michigan on December 31, 1920 and on Tuesday, January 4, 1921, a military memorial service was held at Harlem Reformed Church to remember and honor him.

During the 1920’s new inventions were being made continually impacting the way that life was lived. Radios, airplanes, advertising and the automobile were but a few. John Bartels bought his first car in 1923, it was a Model T Ford. When he went to get the car, he did not know how to drive it but said he would learn. As soon as he started driving home, he lost control of the car weaving from side to side and finally ending up in the ditch. He was unhurt and the car was not damaged. He found that it was not quite as easy to drive a car as he thought. The family laughed about dad’s incident with the car for a long time.

In the years that followed, the children met and married mates that they loved. As John continued into the latter years of his life, his health began to fail and the year 1939 brought a great change to Clara’s life. On November 25, she lost her husband and companion of 47 years. John was 73 years old when he died. According to his death certificate, John died from his appendix rupturing causing “gangrenous appendicitis with abscess formation” This must have caused him tremendous pain just before his death. This left Clara with only her memories and their beautiful life together.

Photo 2 - John and Clara Bartels in the late 1930’s

Not long after this, Clara’s second daughter Johanna Bartels Jekel invited her mother to live with the Jekel family in a large farm house on 112th Ave in Olive Township. In addition to helping the family with the house work, Clara spent some time with the grandchildren and knitted and crocheted. (to be continued)